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Subject:Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Thu, Oct 08, 2015 IP:

So I had luck to acquire this famille rose double guard vase recently, which I belive is a mark and period piece, and could have a potential value up to ten million RMB. A similar one appears on the very high end dealer Chien Lung Tang's website. See link posted below. Unfortunately the vase got damaged, so it's value has been reduced dramatically. Any help much appreciated.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Oct 09, 2015

Oops! Link not fully functional. But the vase is depicted in the mar. 2009 catalogue, and also in the exhibition section for Qing period pieces on the dealers website.

Link pasted below is for the actual vase in focus that I bought from Altair Auctions in Boston. Note that the vase wasn't identified as neither a mark and period or an imperial piece, and therefore the pre-sale estimate does not give much of a clue for the potential value of this wonderful work of art. It is one of the openwork parts in the reticulated area that is broken of.

Subject:This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: beadiste Sat, Oct 10, 2015

What is the original, which evidently is in the Palace Museum, actually made from - porcelain or cloisonne?

Bill H mentioned in the prior thread the link between Qianlong porcelain and cloisonne, with an example of seal marks:

Pic attached of yet another version by contemporary cloisonne master Ding MingHong
(found the picture via a Google Image search using the Chinese characters)

And our prior discussion, where you contributed a link to a porcelain version:

I note from the two sales of this bottle that the porcelain version sold for about twice the price of the cloisonne version. -??

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Oct 12, 2015

Hello beadiste, and thank you for your comment!

How do you know that the original is evidently in the Palace Museum? This is what I was hoping for, and my impression from the skecth of Jin Shiquan is that it could be drawn after the Altair vase itself or, even better, an identical one in a museum somewhere. The first place to look is of course "The Complete Collection of the Treasures of the Palace Museum". They have the books in the library at the Design Museum/Kunstindustrimuseet here in Copenhagen, so I'll go there when I find the time.

Was there another sale at liveauctioneers of a similar bottle?

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Oct 13, 2015

beadiste, could you eventually post the link for the other sale at liveauctioneers, please?

Again the $750 hammer price does not say anything about neither the authenticity or the value of the bottle as an imperial treasure! Last year for example I won another Qianlong vase with gild decoration and famille rose panels unidentifed as a mark and period piece for $650 at eBay. While researching that one my heart stopped for a few seconds, when I stumpled upon a Qianlong vase sold at Sotheby's for roughly RMB 100M, since large parts of the design of that one was quite similar to the design of the vase I just won. But while the hammer price at Sotheby's was quite sensational, the pre-sale estimate being way lower, I actually found some chinese results for two closely related vases. One was at RMB 10M, the other at RMB 8M, if I remember correctly. Ironically that one also got damaged in the shipping/handling process. Or perhaps the damage was all ready there from the beginning, but unnoticed by the eBay seller.

There has btw. been a few other potentially unidentified mark and period pieces available at liveauctioneers recently, for example these two fammile rose cups marked Tongzhi sold for $800 look good to me:

Subject:Red cloisonne copy of Qianlong Palace Museum bottle
Posted By: beadiste Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Here is the link your requested - not sure how helpful it will be, as of course the piece is cloisonne, not porcelain.
Another example of "inspiration" from Palace Museum designs, I guess.

URL Title :Red cloisonne bottle

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Just came back from a visit to the library at the design museum, but unfortunately the book about famille rose treasures of the palace museum had been borrowed by someone else, so I guess I'll have to wait then ...

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Fri, Oct 16, 2015

Pictures of the vase I won at eBay for $650. unfortunately the vase was never shipped by the private chinese eBay seller, because the clerk at the mail office told him that antiques won't pass through the customs. I told him to put a new label on the packet, only describing the content as a porcelain vase, and not to mention it's an antique one, and besides the vase looked more like republic period to me:

He agreed in that, but later wrote me back that he had unpacked goods to check, found that the vase had been damaged and asked me to reply for a refund, which I finally agreed in. Changes were that it had been caught in the customs anyway, and also I felt that the chinese man meanwhile had figured out the vase was quite valuable and didn't really want to ship it, which is only fair. Besides I knew with myself I would find something of similar value for less than $1000 within one year ...

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Sat, Oct 24, 2015

The two results of the two closely related cobalt blue glazed mooflasks with gilt decoration and famille rose panels, Qianlong mark and period, were from a chinese book of auction records for porcelain. Another one that I find comparable, especially for the elephant handles, which was the only thing about the eBay vase that bothered me, was sold at Sotheby's 2007:

Subject:Re: This design gets around, doesn't it?
Posted By: Corey Sun, Feb 07, 2016

Seems that vase was available again at Christie's December 2015, this time with an 'estimate upon request':

It means a lot for the value of a piece when there is a similar one at a historically important cultural institution like the Victoria and Albert Museum. It failed to sell though.

Subject:Complete Treasures Palace Museum copy in cloisonne
Posted By: beadiste Wed, Oct 14, 2015

A trip to the library to view these books might indeed be worthwhile, as someone is evidently using them as "inspiration" for modern works.

The Alain Trurong link explains two Qianlong porcelain vases in the Palace Museum, one in a yellow enamel showing little boys playing with lanterns. A cloisonne copy of this vase recently appeared in an online auction.

Not that I am suggesting your vase is a copy of something, but it would certainly be a good starting point to discover if one like it is in the Palace Museum collection. While the cloisonne copies are readily distinguishable, possibly the porcelain ones are more skillfully made.

URL Title :Alain Trurong essay

Subject:Re: Complete Treasures Palace Museum copy in cloisonne
Posted By: Corey Thu, Oct 15, 2015

Thank you for posting the links. It's very interesting with the cloisonne copies made by contemporary chinese artists. This might also contribute to the importance of the vase in focus as a historical piece and therefore the damage is more acceptable and the impact on it's value less hefty? I think the vase is an original one, not a copy. But I would love to hear the opinion of especially Anthony J Allen, Bill H, Rat and Arjan.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Sun, Oct 11, 2015

Impatiently waiting for the board to update. But what's most frustrating for me, is that I don't know if the damage has happened while the treasure was in my possession. It's a revolving vase that somehow can be separated into three or four pieces. The auction house's shipping department had put tape on the vase to keep the pieces together and I got frustrated because I was afraid the pulling off the tape would damage the enamels and after that I tried to see I could separate the pieces, So it's possible that the break off has happened while I was messing around with the vase; that there was all ready a crack and my unprofessionally violent handling has caused the pieces to separate. I paid $211 for the shipment, so I guess I'll contact the auction house to hear if the shipping insurance covers for damage, and then use the money to have the vase restored by a prof. conservator.

There was BTW. a thread on this board earlier regarding a 20th ct. chinese cloisonne artist who had made cloisonne copies of a piece like this and it's possible that the vase of his sketch is an identical one in a museum somewhere in China, possibly even imperial collection.

I have found some promising results for imperial pieces in the specific colors referred to as "cafe au lait and celadon" by western houses. And also the double guard shape is optimal for a Qianlong piece, so in fact the potential value of such a vase could be even higher than RMB 10M, as a fully intact piece. Note that Chien Lung Tang has pieces on his site that has changed ownership for sums around the RMB 100M mark.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Mon, Oct 12, 2015

As for reference there is a vase at the National Palace Museum in the same palette of colors, that seems to be quite rare and as such also helped me in identifying the Altair vase as probably being an overlooked mark and period piece. Found it via the alaintruong blog:

A Qianlong famille rose café-au-lait and celadon vase with gild and openwork was sold at Sotheby's year 2000 for RMB 22M. That one was apparently available at Singapore based Gianguan Auctions in Mar. 2010 and again in 2015. Can't find neither the estimate or the result on their site though. Frustrating!

And then from chinese Poly we have another imperial celadon-ground reticulated Qianlong vase that sold for HKD 14M.

The description of that one mentions an inner blue and white vessel. The Altair vase that I now own aslo has an inner blue and white vessel:

Better pictures can be seen at the alaintruong blog:

And then finally one that comes to mind when researching Qianlong reticulated light blue celadon with gild is off cause the £43M Qianlong vase from Bainbridges that wasn't paid for.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Oct 13, 2015

Seem like I posted the link to Poly Auctions twice instead of the link to the Poly vase at the alaintruong blog, where you can clearly see the inner blue and white vessel. Hereby corrected:

Also the Sotheby's description of the Gianguan vase mentions an inner bottle.

And certainly also the picture of the Bainbridges vase posted here also reveals an inner blue and white core vessel, so this is getting more and more interesting. Value could still be well above $1M.

I could especially use Arjan's opinion on the mark and some advice on the restoration of the broken parts.

Picture shown is of the Poly vase:

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Wed, Oct 14, 2015

While we still wait for the comments to come; a story about a woman's attempt to restore a Qing dynasty vase:

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Thu, Oct 15, 2015

After closer inspection of the pictures of the Bainbridges vase, it also seems to me that the color pallete is the very same as of the Altair vase, although it looks like, and is described as yellow, it is actually a light yellowish beige ground color with the "bee cube" pattern lined in a darker reddish brown. So also in that matter, the two vases are comparable.

The damage of the Altair vase appears on the opposite side as that seen on the photos provided, so I guess it was all ready there when I acquired the vase, possibly an old repairment that the auction house 'forgot' to mention in their description.

I also spoke to a conservator on the phone, who said she would use glue and retouching, but that the damage could still be seen with uv-light. So a guess an uv-light inspection of the broken area could also tell if there is some glue still left on the pieces.

Not that it will matter much since the damage has happened, but it's very shameful for me if it has happened while the treasure was in my possession.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Oct 20, 2015

More on Bainbridge vase; it was apparently a controversy about the lack of a sliding scale of the buyers premium that resulted in the lack of payment, and not a protest against the trade of looted cultural heritage as rumors claimed.

Had the full 25 percent buyer's premium been included, the sale price would have been £53M, or roughly RMB 450M, an incredible amount of money. The vase was later sold for less than half, the unannounced between £20M and £25M, so still around the magical RMB 200M mark.

After all the golden pheasant vase of the Meiyintang Collection that sold for hk$200M also had a repaired crack ...

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Thu, Oct 22, 2015

(Thank you moderator, for not posting my latest message. I posted it by a mistake before I had corrected all the spelling errors, typo's etc. - sensitive touch-pad.)

Had I only realized the crack was there before I even handled the vase. I had the vase standing on the shelf for three days before I noticed it. The still attached piece then finally fell off, when I was inspecting the damage.

So far my own research indicate that the reduction in value probably lies somewhere between 20 and 50 percent. Off course they can say that I should not complain since I got it cheap, but it still is a lot money when we are talking about a treasure of a potential value up to RMB 100M, at least for insurance purpose, or as a tax deduction ticket through donation ...

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Sat, Oct 24, 2015

Went to the library of the Deign Museum yesterday. But while he book on famille rose still hadn't been returned, I had the opportunity to take a quick look through the books on jade in the imperial collection. Learned that there is at least one other known example of a Han dynasty 'everlasting happiness' bi-disc in existence besides the infamous example inscribed with a poem by Qianlong, which to me is a valuable information, because I also own a very fine white and russet jade 'everlasting happiness' bi-disc, which I believe also is a genuine Han dynasty example. Unfortunately mine doesn't carry a Qianlong signature, so it's value is not as hefty as the one offered through Sotheby's recently:

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Sat, Oct 24, 2015

They have some rather nice pieces in the museum by the way. For example there is a Hongwu period copper red kendi that is also referred to in a Christie's description on an example sold in 2008:

I also recently had luck to acquire a Hongwu period copper red kendi, probably the only other example in the world with a decoration of freely painted lotus and water-weed similar to the one in the Victoria an Albert Museum:

Chien Lung Tang has by the way also sold a fine Hongwu period copper red kendi. He has handled some rather nice early copper red items. I especially like the temple vase that is similar to the one at Shanghai Museum:

Apparently that one changed ownership in 2014 for hk$108M.

But also the dish that was sold at Bonhams in 2004 appeals to me:

If Mr. Eskenazi pays $5.7M for it in 2004, then we can only guess at how much he resells it for. And what the asking price was when it appeared in Chien Lung Tang's catalogue Oct. 2007.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Oct 27, 2015

Seems like I've messed up the links again. The alaintruong blog shows one in the Avery Brundage Collection. The one at Shanghai museum can be seen at And the result for the one that appears on Chien Lung Tang's site was again found in a chinese book on auction records.

Subject:Re: Qianlong fam. rose M&P. What value?
Posted By: Corey Tue, Nov 24, 2015

At last I found the counterpart which is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, where it is described as 'yangcai' porcelain:

The description of the Bainbridges vase posted here actually mentions "a bottle with comparable celadon reticulation and similar gilding, with blue and white decoration to the inner wall" in the National Palace Museum for reference, which can almost only be the one in the link pasted above, so again there is a clear relationship between the two vases.

My huge step in potential value of the vase in focus was because of the similarity in color to the Bainbrigdes vase. I wrongfully saw the color of the Altair vase as "celadon and café-au-lait" and not of yellow, which is the color of the emperor. The Sotheby's link below explains the term 'yangcai':

About the authenticity of the Altair vase, the key is to track it's provenance. If it really is a lost imperial treasure, it has most likely been handled by one of the great American dealers and/or collectors of the 2Oth century.

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